Hush now! Context factors behind smartphone ringer mode changes

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Pervasive and Mobile Computing, Volume 71, p.101332 (2021)



Context awareness, Machine Learning, Ringer mode, Smartphones


In this paper we examine the contextual factors driving users’ decisions to change smartphone ringer modes, and in particular switching between a full (normal) mode where all notification modalities are enabled, and a discreet ringer mode (i.e. where audio is disabled). We add to the limited current literature through a qualitative study based on the theory of Reasoned Action Approach, and the longitudinal collection of empirical data from users’ devices. Our findings demonstrate that temporal, spatial and social context are strong determinants for the decision-making process of switching ringer modes. In particular, social context emerges in a much more complex form than described in previous studies, questioning if it can be accurately captured in all its richness. On the other hand, temporal and spatial context are found to explain much of the variation in ringer mode use, enabling prediction of appropriate ringer mode states using machine learning. Our findings open new directions for cross-cultural, longitudinal research.

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